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Read Romans 9

Paul’s Anguish Over Israel
1 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!Amen.

God’s Sovereign Choice
6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:

“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”

26 and,

“In the very place where it was said to them,
‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”

27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:

“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
28 For the Lord will carry out
his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

29 It is just as Isaiah said previously:

“Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.”

Israel’s Unbelief
30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Go Deeper

How can I be saved? It’s one of the most important questions you can ever ask in this life. Once you understand that you’re a sinner in need of saving, you need to find out how you can actually receive salvation. For many people today, the thought is that you must be good enough for God. In order to make it into Heaven, you have to do enough good works, or give a certain amount of money, or have a specific title to be considered worthy. This idea was also a belief that was prevalent during the time that Paul wrote Romans. For years and years, people thought they were “in” simply based off of the family they were born into. He uses this chapter to specifically address whether these Jewish people would be saved. These were the ultimate insiders! But Paul writes that just because these people had the right title and the right actions, it didn’t mean they were “in”. Salvation comes through faith alone, not by merit or family of origin or correct behavior. 

This can be somewhat unsettling for those of us who like to live with a sense of control. We want to be the ones in charge of how “good” or “bad” we are. We want to be able to prove that we have what it takes to be saved. But salvation is not about our independence, but rather our dependence. Paul writes in verse 16, “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” While it may not be comfortable to give up control, it’s the exact thing we must do to find a relationship with God. Because if nothing else, Romans 9 is one of the best examples of salvation being God’s job, not our own. We can’t work our way in. Instead God allows us to rest in His finished work in order to be saved. 

So today we can grow in our relationship with God by submitting to Him in everything we do. We can submit our salvation to Him, our schedules to Him, our kids to Him. And the good news is that we can trust Him! Scripture says that He desires to work all things together for our good as we trust in Him (Romans 8:28). As you give your life over to God, you can have confidence that it’s in loving hands. 


  1. What did you notice about how Paul speaks about who is “out” versus who is “in”?
  2. Paul presents a few “what if’s” in 22-23. How do you feel about things you might not understand about God?
  3. What are some areas of your life that you are still controlling and not yet fully dependent on God?

By The Way

Paul uses this chapter to explain that Jesus is a continuation of the God of the Old Testament. This isn’t a totally different God, but the same one who has been at work all along. Paul does this by referencing multiple Old Testament books like Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, and Hosea. Salvation has always been through faith in God.

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4 thoughts on “Romans 9”

  1. As people whose minds & hearts have been corrupted by sin, we have difficulty grasping the infinite distance between God and ourselves. Only by God’s mercy do we begin to recognize how totally dependent we are on him for everything. Our self-sufficient ways lead to death; through Christ we have been shown mercy. Instead of destruction we experience His glory! Today let’s be mindful of our choices, not stumbling/tripping but fully believing on Him so that we are not put to shame. Let’s rise up as his beloved people.

  2. Dependance on God is a theme that God in His mercy brings before me over and over and over again. In our self sufficient culture, it’s abrasive to think oneself dependant on anything. Two years ago, Bill Lawrence, a professor from DTS shared in a Bible study in the context of Exodus 3 (Think Moses telling God that he had the wrong guy) that, “it is impossible to be obedient to God, without being dependant on God.” That resonated and stuck with me and yet I still meditate and struggle with embracing that and living it out to the full. Lord God, in your mercies, may I be wholly dependant on you…

  3. 1 – It took me some time to figure out what he was talking about for me. And, even after some bible study, it’s still hard to understand. But one thing is clear: God is always right(eous) even if we don’t understand. And what I noticed was that God for who is “out” did not push them into darkness, but just took away some of the unrealised blessing he is/was giving. And gave them over to their own sin full will after giving them chances, while still getting (rightful) glory for himself out of it. And those who are “in” can also have a hard time but also have the graces blessings of him, even if you’re not aware of it. while also getting (rightful) glory for himself out of it. And that He is so graces that he even does anything good for anybody!

    2 – I find it difficult, very difficult especially when others do seem to get it. It makes me feel like the spirit was not as much in me as it was them and or if I did or read it wrong. To be completely honest, I did not know what to take away from this chapter, for I did not know what Paul’s point was here. And then I’m very grateful for the numerous bible explainers out there, and that I do not have to figure it out by myself. I also know that one day you seem to have verse after verse that speaks to you, while other days not so much. That later when you read it again new things form or spring out to you. And I want to learn about God, Jesus and the Spirit and who and how I can be within them and be for them, and trust that God speaks to me, among other things, through the Bible and will provide for me what I need to know.

    3 – I’m a person who likes to keep control or at least knows what is up, and that is not easy to let go. I have made (though I say so myself) meteor improvements in trusting God and giving him credit for all the things he does in my life. But no doubt there are still hundreds of things in which I can trust God, and trust God further. So my prayer is for that to happen and for me to stand stronger in you Lord, that I will be able to trust you even in the hardest things and emotions. For You are my rock, my stronghold and there is nothing and no one like you, thank you, Lord for that. Amen!

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